Later in January, another doctor, a neurologist keeping tabs of Boogaard's postconcussion symptoms, prescribed 30 pills of Zolpidem. Peterson, the Wild team doctor, prescribed 30 more on Feb. 2, when Boogaard was in Minnesota. And Weissman of the Rangers began increasing his dosages to 30 pills every week or two.
A friend reported seeing Boogaard in March crushing and snorting Ambien. By March, friends and family said, Boogaard was spending thousands of dollars on pain pills from a man on Long Island. He kept pills in Ziploc bags and plastic Easter eggs he sometimes carried in his pockets.
By then, Boogaard had tested positive several times for opiates like oxycodone. In early April, Boogaard flopped on the ice during a skating session and was confronted by an assistant. Within days, Boogaard was in California for another extended stay in substance-abuse rehabilitation, his second in about 18 months.
On May 12, granted a second long leave of absence from the rehabilitation facility, Authentic Recovery Center in Los Angeles, Boogaard returned to Minnesota. He went out with friends and his brother Aaron. A day later, Aaron and Ryan Boogaard, Derek's other younger brother, found Boogaard dead of an overdose on the bed of his Minneapolis apartment.
Len Boogaard has considered lawsuits. But he said that taking the NHL and those with ties to it to court could take a financial and time commitment that he could not afford. He cited the example of Steve Moore, a Colorado Avalanche player attacked on the ice by Vancouver's Todd Bertuzzi in 2004. A long-awaited trial is scheduled to begin later this year.
"It's not the money," Len Boogaard said. "But in eight years, how many more players are going to go through something like what Derek did?"